Hester Ann Rogers
British Methodist Writer
1756 – 1794 A.D.
An old fashioned name, you say, for a sweet baby girl, born January 31, 1755, in Macclesfield, Cheshire, England.
Well trained by a pious father, a clergyman in the Church of England, and by an exacting mother, Hester Ann Roe grew to greatly reverence the Lord, to be scrupulous in her conduct, and to pray earnestly. Family prayer daily, and a strict observance of the Sabbath, were the rules in their home. When she was nine years old her father called her to his bedside, commended her to God’s tender care, warned her against ever participating in dancing, novel-reading, and other popular sins of the day. A few days later he died of a malignant fever.
After this, as she grew into beautiful womanhood, she was greatly admired. Her mother now let her be taught to dance, attend plays, read novels, and give herself up to vanities and pleasure-seeking.
She entered the church by confirmation when she was thirteen years old, was serious for a time, would fast and pray, take the Lord’s Supper, resolve, and break resolutions, and again be found in her old sins.
“Dress, novels, plays, cards, assemblies and balls took up most of my time, so that my mother began to fear the consequences of my living so much above my station in life. But I would not now listen to her admonitions. I loved pleasures, and after them I would go. What increased my vanity and pride was, that I was much beloved by my god-mother, a lady of very considerable fortune, and often spent most of the summer months with her at Adlington, where I was treated as if she intended to bestow a handsome fortune on me. She introduced me into the company of those in high life, and enabled me by large presents to dress in a manner suitable to such company. Oh, how fatal in general are such prospects to a young mind! Yet, in all this, I still wished to preserve a religious appearance. I still frequented church and sacraments, still prayed at night and morning, fasted sometimes, especially in Lent, and because I did these things, esteemed myself a far better Christian than my neighbors.”
Rumors were afloat concerning the new sect – Methodists – and the most odious dislike for them possessed in her mind. She believed Methodist preachers were false prophets, of which Scripture told. As in these days, people were formed their opinions not by candid investigation, but by mere hearsay. Upon her return home, she found Mr. Simpson, their new curate, to be a so-called Methodist, and she resolved he should not convert her.
She continued seeking God. Her mother and friends thought she was losing her mind, and vainly tried to comfort her. She received some relief in taking communion, but feared to be presumptuous, and did not assert her faith. She had not yet attended a strictly Methodist meeting, so now she went at five in the morning to a Methodist preaching service. She was convinced they were truly the Lord’s people. From that time she resolved to attend Methodist services, though her mother was horrified and disgusted. The intervention of an uncle prevented the irate mother from turning her daughter out of doors.
Hester told her mother, “I must seek the salvation of my soul, whatever the consequences. I am therefore determined to leave you, and go be a servant, rather than be kept from the Methodists. Yet, if you will consent to it, I should greatly prefer continuing in your house, though it should be as your servant, and I am willing to undertake all the work of the house if you will only suffer me to attend preaching.” Her mother listened to her daughter’s proposals, fully believing the housework, to which her delicate from was unaccustomed, would soon outdo her zeal, and she would give up all her resolutions. But not so. Hester entered upon her work joyfully, and hope revived that soon she would enter into God’s clear favor. How few professors of a high state of grace could endure half so much for Jesus’ sake!
She continued groaning and praying for salvation. Arising one morning at four, she wrestled again. Though Satan buffeted, she pressed through to believing ground, crying, “O, show me how to believe. O, teach me; help me or I am lost.” Such promises as “Cast all thy care upon him for he careth for thee,” “Fear not, only believe,” and “Come unto e, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” came with sweet help to her heart, and she ventured her all into a Savior’s tender keeping. “My sins were gone, my soul a was happy, and I longed to depart and be with Christ. I was truly a new creature, and seemed to be in a new world. I could do nothing but love and praise my God. My mother was astonished at the change which appearance in my countenance and whole deportment. Now, said I, I am repaid a thousand times for all I have suffered. My words and flowing tears made her weep, but she said little, being all wonder.”
With joy Hester performed the most servile duties, though she could neither eat nor drink for many nights. The Word of God was sweeter than honey or the honeycomb.
About seven months after she undertook to be servant to her mother the latter took a fever, and, when recovering, took a relapse which threatened to be fatal. The six weeks of heavy strain was too much for Hester’s frail body, and for a long time she seemed walking on the rim of a consumptive’s grave. Upon the intercession of friends, she was relieved from her wok. Having stood the furnace flame, outward opposition began to abate.
Conviction for entire sanctification now began to dawn upon her. Remains of anger, pride, self-will, and unbelief brought heaviness and sorrow, and she began to cry for deliverance. The witness of the Spirit was still hers, and blessed answers to prayers were given. She hoped by fasting and prayer to mortify the carnal nature. Tough the process reduces the body, it does not destroy the man. She seemed far gone in consumption, and an early grave near. The prospect of heaven was very delightful, and she did not care to get well. But she found that entire renunciation meant to have no choice of her own, leaving every chance to Divine management. When able to attend preaching again, she learned that sanctification, like justification, was an instantaneous work wrought by the Holy Ghost, in answer to faith in the Savior’s merits. Good reading also helped to enlighten her. The Scripture promises, in all their fulness [sic], opened to her.
August 19, 1784, she was married to Mr. James Rogers, a Methodist preacher, whose first wife had been her most intimate friend. She became to him a very efficient helpmeet [sic], a most excellent class-leader, a tactful and successful personal worker in the vineyard of the Lord. Wherever they went, the churches were built up in numbers and spirituality. She was indeed a mother in Israel. The old-fashioned , close class-meeting was one of the mighty instruments of early Methodism, blest [sic] of the Lord to lead many inquiring souls into salvation, and in guiding converts on to holiness and into most fruitful lives of prayer and devotion. It was Mr. Rogers’ custom to give his wife a run-down class, let her labor until it was too large to do the best, then divide them, and give them to other leaders, letting his wife start over again. In this way she became a blessing to many souls.
Her maternal care and affection shone equally bright. Though she devoted much of her time to religious duties in public and private, yet nothing seemed undone which could make her children comfortable and happy. She even prevented all their wants, and was equally – nay, if it were possible, more – attentive to Mr. Rogers’ children by his former wife than to her own.
Her married life was beautiful, and her husband felt indeed stricken when, October 10. 1794, shortly after giving birth to a baby boy, she departed to receive her reward in a land where sorrow, sighing and parting are no more. Seven children lamented her loss. She died in her thirty-ninth year.
Reference: Men and Women of Deep Piety by Mrs. Clara McLeister. Edited and published by Rev. E.E. Shelhamer. ©1920.